Quest economic freedom
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
According to The Washington DC based think tank Heritage Foundation’s 2011 Economic Freedom index, the Philippines ranks 115th out of 183 countries and territories when it comes to economic freedom. The report says that the Philippines’ score worsened by 0.2 point to 56.2, ranks 21st out of the 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and is slightly below the world and regional averages of 59.7 and 57.4 points respectively.
This year’s overall score for the Philippines reflects “small reductions in business and labor freedom offsetting modest gains in monetary freedom and freedom from corruption”. The foundation was referring to 4 of the 10 criteria used in ranking the countries. The other 6 relate to freedom in trade, fiscal, government spending, investment, financial and property rights.
Economic freedom, as the foundation defines it, “is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property”. It adds that “In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.”
Since the index was launched in 1995, the Philippines’ overall score has been in the range that the index tags as “mostly unfree” economies. A score of 56.2 out of a possible 100 may sound dreadful but it must be noted that we are within striking range of both the global and regional average. In terms of economic freedom, we are currently at par with our neighbors Cambodia (102nd), Indonesia (116th), Vietnam (139th), Laos (141th), and even superpowers China (135th) and Russia (143rd). We may never be able to take the place of the 1st placer for the 17th straight year, Hong Kong, but if the goal is to continuously improve the way our government works so that our people enjoy more and more economic freedom with each passing year, then our government certainly needs to buckle down when it comes to that aspect because there is lots of room for improvement and much work to be done.*